Prof. Van Helsing is in danger of prosecution for the murder of Dracula...until a hypnotic woman steals the Count's body and cremates it. Bloodless corpses start appearing in London again, and Hungarian countess Marya Zaleska seeks the aid of Jeffrey Garth, psychiatrist, in freeing herself of a mysterious evil influence. The scene changes from foggy London back to that eerie road to the Borgo Pass...Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
After years and years of being a Universal horror fan, I finally see "Dracula's Daughter". What an interesting and haunting film it is,too. It's way ahead of the curve in portraying a vampire that wants to escape its cursed existence. The "daughter" of the title longs to live as a real woman but must answer the call of her blood. Is she really a blood relation to Count Dracula or merely a past victim who was especially close to him? Beginning exactly where Todd Browning's "Dracula" left off years earlier, we see Prof. van Helsing arrested for murder when he is found in the vicinity of Dracula's staked-out body. The dull-witted police commissioner believes van Helsing is either a lunatic or a liar but respects his scientific credentials enough to keep him out of jail. Van Helsing seeks the aid of his old student, psychiatrist Jeffrey Garth, to prove his innocence.
Meanwhile, in a truly unusual scene, the body of Count Dracula is stolen from a pair of bumbling policemen by Countess Marya Zaleska and her pale, sinister servant Sandor. The undead Countess merely wants to give Dracula a dignified cremation by fire. His torment is over, but Marya's lingers. She is struggling mightily to resist the call to vampirism but Sandor seems to encourage his mistress to enjoy her bloody deeds.
Through a tangled web of fate, Prof. Garth and Countess Zaleska become entwined. The Countess begs the psychiatrist to give her the willpower to escape her "obsession"...meanwhile, Garth is becoming uneasily aware of Marya's link to several vampire-like murders that have occurred in town. Most tellingly, he notes that her apartment does not have a single mirror...a sure sign of a vampire, according to Van Helsing.
It all ends in Transylvania as the forces of good and evil collide once more.
Gloria Holden is striking as "Dracula's Daughter". Her exotic Slavic looks and wide, hypnotic eyes make it easy to believe she is more than merely human. She has a tragic aura to her, but when she seduces a young girl to become a victim, she also seems repellent.
The real monster of the movie is Sandor, who seems to be manipulating Marya for his own evil ends. Irving Pichel later became a director of some repute, but here he is a scary, foreboding presence with his ominous bass voice, deathly pale skin and Russian garb. Sandor's relationship with Marya is truly unique, as he talks to her as an equal, not a servant.
Otto Kruger is great as Jeffrey Garth, a man of reason and wit who is thrust into the twilight world of the undead. Kruger was a very under-rated actor who should have been more well-known. His sarcastic romantic sniping with his sexy and uppity secretary comes across just as well as his more serious dialogs with van Helsing and Marya. He's a refreshing change from the usual David Manners type hero in the old Universals.
It's a real treat to see Edward van Sloan return in the role of Dr. van Helsing. Calm, rational and collected in his thoughts, he is a contrast to the unholy creatures he duels with. ONe wonders if van Helsing would be sympathetic to Countess Zaleska...or if he would be hell-bent on her destruction. Never do we hear van Sloan's van Helsing voice any understanding or sympathy for the vampires he stalks.
There's some odd comic moments...the two nitwit bobbies at the beginning in particular stick out like a sore thumb...and director Lambert Hillyer's vision of Transylvania seems more like a clichéd Germany, but "Dracula's Daughter" dares to be different from its more famous predecessor and in so doing, emerges as a bit of a classic itself.
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